The Serendipity of Anna Maltby’s “How to Waste Less Every Day” article in Real Simple Magazine

So I have a few obligatory magazine subscriptions I consider fluff luxury after certain school fundraisers that hit us every year. If you’re a parent with kids in the public school system, you’ll most likely know what I mean. They are kept in random locations (most in a lovely bathroom basket), and I only flip through them when I have a few minutes of stillness. Let’s say this is almost never.

Most magazines annoy me because it’s all ads, and BUY BUY BUY. But this most recent publication of Real Simple just happened to land on my kitchen countertop, and instead of shuffling it aside (because mail strewn on my countertop is a top pet peeve), I flipped it open and found this beautifully compiled article on all things “less trash.”

It has a very visual center fold on water pollution titled “What’s in the Water” with statistics listing the numbers on plastic bottles, cigarette butts, grocery bags, straws/stirrers, etc. that even my small kids could understand. This is good so when we see a piece of trash in the park or at the water’s edge, we make an effort as a family to pick it up – because we know the implications.

Author Catherine Ryan Gregory’s contribution to the package, “How Low Can you Go?” concerning a zero-waste lifestyle is a great lesson, especially with the mantra ‘refuse first.’

Inserting *REFUSE* as the first word in our REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE would serve us well in this day and age of toys in kid’s meals, birthday party favors, and a plastic doodad for every little occasion. And do we really need that new lunch bag or backpack? Or could it use a little more love, repair, wear and tear? (We’ve found some cute patches to cover some “drag” holes on my daughter’s pack.)

She even has a little bit called “Raise tiny tree huggers.” She interviewed Tippi Thole of Tiny Trash Can ( who states, “Kids are often the best place to start in your waste-reduction journey because they tend to be more sensitive to the problem and don’t have the bad habits we adults do.”

This statement is one of the main reasons I’ve taken on the Super Recycling Brigade and Environment role at my local elementary school. Schools already produce so much waste, and what better place to instill the value of a less cluttered, polluted mind and space then in your community schools?

The end of Gregory’s bit even gives a plug to TerraCycle by suggesting investment in a bin – especially since the company accepts so many items that we cannot recycle curbside. (Link here to get your bins.)

(Read my article on TerraCycle and recycling at our local school here.)

The end of the article has an A-Z guide, which I just love (again – so user friendly for my kids)! The B for balloons is definitely a good lesson to start now. Maltby mentions how the broken bits are especially dangerous to seabirds (have you seen the photos of the dead babies in their nests?), and suggests paper lanterns, or any other decor. Just not balloons! (I am most definitely a balloon sinner – I so wish there was a cornstarch alternative.)

So thank you, Anna Maltby, for your effort in laying these values, numbers and information out so clearly. I’ll try and pay them forward, starting with myself, my children, and their community.

Banner photo by Britta Jackson ( for

Leave a Reply